Swimming drills are repetitive practice movements used to improve swim speed and technique. Anyone who swims, whether for a simple aerobic workout or for competitions, can benefit from incorporating swimming drills into their workout routines. Before beginning any freestyle drills, it is best to make sure one is using proper form in the water when freestyling.
Experts recommend swimming on one's side, like a knife cutting through the water, rather than on one's stomach. This is because side swimming allows for easier, faster movement through the water, while engaging the stronger muscles of the core. These are the side abdominal muscles and the muscles along the spine; conversely, those who swim flat against the water predominantly use their shoulder muscles to pull themselves through the water.
While performing swimming drills, try to keep the head aligned with the hips. The head should be in the water, only turned to the side when it is necessary to breathe. Only breathe during the body roll, when rolling to the opposite side. It may be helpful to have someone observe one's swimming technique to offer advice. Once basic freestyle technique has been mastered, swimming drills may be incorporated. One of the most common is the "catch-up" or one arm drill.
In the catch-up swimming drill, one begins by pushing off from the side of the pool with one arm extended out in front, and the opposite arm doing the work of stroking through the water. When the other arm fully catches up with the extended arm, they can then switch places. This is an effective swimming drill because it encourages lengthening of the stroke as well as proper swimming form. The one arm drill is similar, except that instead of switching the active arm after each stroke, the active arm strokes a few times before switching with the extended arm.
Another common swimming drill is the "fist" drill, where one swims in a normal freestyle manner, but keeps the hands clenched into fists. Other swimming drills include the "fingertip drag" and the "shark fin," among many others. Example videos may be found online, or a swimming instructor will be able to demonstrate them.
Swimming drills are an excellent way to increase strength throughout the entire body, particularly the arms and core muscles, where most work is done in swimming. Those who move more easily through the water also move at greater speeds, so it is especially important for those who want to compete. Even someone who just swims for fun will find swimming to be easier and more effective after spending some time on swimming drills and technique improvement.